Friday, 9 May 2008

[Serie B] Week 39 Preview

This weekend’s round of fixtures features a prelude to the play-offs, or should that be automatic promotion, as second-placed Albinoleffe play fourth-placed Lecce.

Who would have thought the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia would play host to a potential title decider? Atalanta’s home has become that of Albinoleffe, the club formed in 1998 from two tiny Bergamaschi villages, Albino and Leffe.

Elio Gustinetti’s side lie three points behind Cadetti leaders Chievo and two points ahead of Bologna and the play-off zone with four games remaining. Lecce’s visit to Bergamo will provide the sternest test yet of Albinoleffe’s Serie A credentials - the Salentini are unbeaten since the beginning of February and have the best defence in the League.

At the top, Chievo are planning a Gialloblu invasion of Mantova, taking over 1,500 fans with them in anticipation of their instant return to the top flight.

Giuseppe Iachini is hoping to recover leading goalscorer Sergio Pellissier in time for the trip to Lombardy, as the in-demand attacker has been struggling with injury in recent weeks.

Having slipped to third by winning only one of their last four matches, Bologna must beat Grosseto if they are to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive. Attacking midfielder Francesco Valiani will play at left-back if Riccardo Bonetto fails a late fitness test.

Brescia host Ascoli without their talented young goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano. The 22-year-old is out with tonsillitis and could be joined on the sidelines by striker Andrea Caracciolo and talismanic midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi.

Pisa are also walking wounded into their battle with Rimini. Giampiero Ventura is without five of his starting eleven, two of whom - playmaker Alessio Cerci and Mario Titone - are out for the season.

Looking on the bright side, a win for the Tuscans will guarantee them a place in the top six and a chance to return to Serie A for the first time in 17 years.

It’s just as interesting at the bottom thanks to Ravenna’s recent renaissance. Since Franco Varrella took over in April, the Emilians have won three of their last four games, leaving them two points from safety ahead of their local derby at free-falling Modena.

Cesena need a miracle if they are to stay up, cut adrift from the rest of the pack by four points, but the arrival in Emilia-Romagna of relegation rivals Avellino could sound the beginning of a great escape.

Treviso have a game in hand after last week’s game with Grosseto was tragically called off, but the long journey to Bari will undoubtedly make them reflect on the precariousness of their position in Serie B, just a point above Spezia - who play Messina - and Ravenna.

Saturday 10 May 2008 (1500 UK time, +1hr for Italy/CET)
Albinoleffe v Lecce
Bari v Treviso
Brescia v Ascoli
Cesena v Avellino
Grosseto v Bologna
Mantova v Chievo
Messina v Spezia
Modena v Ravenna
Pisa v Rimini
Triestina v Piacenza
Vicenza v Frosinone

Source: C4 Football Italia

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